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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Moffitt thankful he could help BNSF

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Illinois State Rep. Don Moffitt called Galesburg, Ill., "the crossroads of America," while delivering the keynote address at the 31st annual Community Thanksgiving Luncheon, according to The Register-Mail. Moffitt spoke of things for which he was thankful. Topping the list was a vision to help BNSF as the foundation of economic development in Galesburg.

Moffitt told the crowd of business people and community leaders that there have been three significant announcements concerning the railroad in the past few months. The first was $33.5 million was to be used to build two overpasses and one underpass to help with traffic problems caused by the large number of rail crossings in the city. The second announcement was the commitment of $52 million in federal stimulus money to relieve congestion in the BNSF classification yard, the second largest in the rail giant's system, by building storage tracks, and building a third main line from the rail yard to the north edge of the city. The third announcement was $3 million in federal money secured by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to help with the rail improvements.

Moffitt said the total of $88.5 million is "probably the largest capital project that has ever been announced for Galesburg, as far as we know."

He talked about how each of the grade separations is expected to take about two years to build, meaning six years of construction jobs. He said there are an average of about 120 trains coming through Galesburg daily.

"And we don't complain about trains in Galesburg; that's jobs. We have lines coming here from seven directions. We're the crossroads of America," he said. 

Moffitt said the hope is the rail yard itself will be considered for expansion or jobs related to the railroad will come to Galesburg.

 He said some might say of the $88.5 million, "yes but," as in "yes, but you didn't bring a new factory,' or ‘yes, but you didn't bring an ethanol plant.'

"I hope all of us will help embrace the vision and have the mindset not of ‘yes but,' but of ‘why not?' " Moffitt said.

The purchase of BNSF by Warren Buffet was also seen as a positive by Moffitt, who said, "Very recently, the announcement that one of the richest men in the world announced he bought the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, whose second largest yard is in Galesburg, Illinois. It improves our chances to be a distribution center" or to have a biodiesel plant. "The potential is there once we get these things in place."

Moffitt said the next cause to support is the National Railroad Hall of Fame. He said, as a state legislator, he has watched the impact of the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Library on Springfield.

"I believe this is a great project," he said of the Hall of Fame. "I think that's the next big thing we need to get behind."

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